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On Friday night we had the opening and discussion surrounding ideas of painting including beauty, aesthetics, history, politics, death and other. This addition to the five part project Paintingontopofitself offers a micro look at the history and development of Modernist painting by artists David Akenson and Tarn McLean. Thoughts concerning the intuitive nature of painting and the act of making were discussed through the works of Australian Indigenous artist Emily Kngwarreye, American artist Gilbert Hsiao and Australian John Aslanidis.

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The Agreeable Surface: Gilbert Hsiao and John Aslanidis

The term “agreeable” was used by Immanuel Kant to refer to the pleasure derived from the experience of certain objects presented to the senses. Something is agreeable if it is pleasing to sight. As he put it, the agreeable is what the ‘senses find pleasing in sensation’, rather than, for example, pleasing to my understanding of what is morally good for society. The agreeable is personal. It is what I find pleasing to my eye. When I judge something agreeable to my senses, here in this space, occupied by my body, I make no broader claim for the object’s importance or value to society. This does not mean the object before my senses is of no value beyond its optical affects, but rather that I am not judging it against other criteria.

If we contrast this to what Kant calls the “beautiful”, or what I judge to be of value to the broader community, we notice that the beautiful lays claim to “universality” whereas the agreeable does not. As such, I expect others who share my taste to affirm that the object before us is beautiful. I demand the community’s assent.

The beautiful has dominated aesthetic discussions over the past century, leaving the agreeable as a marginal consideration for both artists and art critics.

The Agreeable Surface: Gilbert Hsiao, John Aslanidis and Emily Kngwarreye is an attempt to correct this oversight. The works in this exhibition are but three examples of many that might fall under the category of the agreeable. These artists’ present works that immediately address the eye – that strike the eye with a dazzling display of colour, line and plane. Enjoy!

David Akenson

NB. The work of Australian Indigenous artist Emily Kngwarreye, whilst not included in the title of the show, will be added to the publication and catalogue (following this show), as a way to further identify and give light to the aesthetic values that lay on top of the canvas surface.

Emily Kngwarreye (c.1910 – 1996) Australian indigenous artist drew on her Alhalkere Dreaming as a source of creative power and knowledge. Kngwarreye utilized the canvas surface as a way to systemize her connection with people as well as with the arch formation of the ancestor rock, Alhalkere. For Kngwarreye the Alhalkere was the place and law she continually re-created in her art.[1] In turn she utilized the picture surface as a way to visualize cultural connection to her community and county. Loaded with dots and stripes, her works repeatedly incorporate imagery that communicate the totality of her existence expressed as her Dreamings in all their manifestations.

Gilbert Hsiao (b.1956) is a US based artist. Hsiao’s practice explores the role of visual perception in art, through paintings that interrogate kinetic spatial design. It is influenced by the rhythmic patterning and sonar characteristics of hypnotic minimalist music from the seventies that are integrated in geometric op-art paintings. It also reflects on ancient Greek and Roman geometry, optics and perception, specifically addressing its influence on perspective and the field of astronomy during the Renaissance as well as its impact on contemporary optical and kinetic art.

John Aslanidis (b.1961) Australian artist uses a set of mathematical intervals to compose the paintings; these are relative to a symmetrical grid on each of the four canvases.

“This drawing that I use as a reference point to compose my paintings is akin to an algorithm or “musical score,” which allows me to improvise.”

‘I’ve explored this area further, collaborating with sound artists, mainly Berlin-based sound artist, Brian May, creating painting/sound installations. Vibration created by the kinetic resonance of the “Sonic Network” series occupies a sensory dimension, which exists between sound and vision. This interdisciplinary approach has a correlation with music, mathematics and science.’

The intention is to create imagery were there is no starting or finishing point, capturing a fragment of infinity. The overall visual effect is one of a perpetual change, with the intention of disorientating the viewer and creating a contemplative mindspace.[2]




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RAYGUN PROJECTS is an artist run initiative run by artists Alexandra Lawson and Tarn McLean located in the CBD of Toowoomba, Australia. 2011-2018.

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